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Raising Domestic Revenues, Resisting Protectionism Key to Funding Sustainable Development Goals, Speakers Tell Economic and Social Council Forum

The Economic and Social Council Forum on Financing for Development follow-up opened its expert segment today with a panel discussion and set of three thematic round tables dedicated to garnering the vast resources required to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Alexander Trepelkov, Director of the Financing for Development Office in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the Forum’s expert segment would focus on the state of implementation in all “action areas” of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, adopted in 2015 to fund the world’s sustainable development framework.  “The next two days present an excellent opportunity to identify success stories and the lessons drawn from them to apply in our countries and contexts,” he said.

In the morning, the Forum took part in a panel discussion on the “2017 report of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development”, formed in 2015 to follow up on the Addis Agenda.  Five panellists highlighted the report’s findings and offered proposals for spurring global growth.

Yonov Frederick Agah, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said a central recommendation was that Governments should work together to resist inward-looking and protectionist pressures.  While trade generated higher productivity, inadequate attention to those left behind by globalization had raised concerns.  The policy response should recognize that trade was only one factor contributing to economic change, along with technology and innovation.

Another major focus must be to raise domestic revenues, said Siddarth Tiwari, Director of the Strategy Policy and Review Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  The Fund had increased support for doing that by one fifth since 2015.  While easier said than done, it required the most attention.

Richard Kozul-Wright, Director of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said the biggest problem was the global slowdown in public and private investment.  The reasons for that included sluggish global demand following policy mistakes in advanced economies, corporate rent-seeking that had dampened productive investment, and high debt dependence.  He called for a new global strategy to achieve the inclusive outcomes embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals.

The morning also featured a round table on “domestic and international public resources”, covering action areas A and C of the Addis Agenda.  Four panellists outlined ways to mobilize resources, with Darrell Bradley, Mayor of Belize City, stressing that subnational governments generated as much as 40 per cent of public investment.

On that point, Philippe Orliange, Director of Agence Française de Développement, said that with 23 national, regional and international development banks, and $3 trillion in assets, the International Development Finance Club had a key role to play in domestic resource mobilization as it could finance local governments.

Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director of the Development Cooperation Directorate of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), said his organization was catalysing investment in “Sustainable Development Goal-critical” sectors, and collaborating with the United Nations to develop the “total official support for sustainable development” – a new measure to better understand today’s global financing landscape.

Two afternoon round tables took up issues of “domestic and international private business and finance” and “debt and systemic issues”, respectively.  In the first, moderator Preeti Sinha, Senior President of the YES Institute, said “Sustainable Development Goal finance” should be led by the private sector, as $3 trillion would be needed annually.  The major question hinged on balancing that need with the funds available, $218 trillion of which was in global capital markets and $75 billion in the “impact industry”.

In the second round table, panellist Patricia Miranda, Senior Officer on Finance for Development at Latindadd Fundación Jubileo in Bolivia, said that if developed countries fell into debt distress, it would have a systemic impact on the global economy.  It had taken Latin America two decades to recover from the effects of debt on the most marginalized peoples.  As such, it was essential to provide the right framework to encourage early debtor-creditor engagement towards efficient and timely restructuring.

The Forum on Financing for Development follow-up will reconvene at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, 25 May, to continue its expert segment.

Opening Remarks

ALEXANDER TREPELKOV, Director of the Financing for Development Office, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, opened the expert segment of the Economic and Social Council Forum on Financing for Development follow-up, which he said would focus on the state of implementation in all action areas of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  It also would allow for addressing new and emerging topics, with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development report serving as a guide for the discussion.  Led by the World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organization (WTO), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the report contained input from more than 50 United Nations agencies, funds, programmes and offices, regional commissions and others.  “The next two days present an excellent opportunity to identify success stories and the lessons drawn from them to apply in our countries and contexts,” he said.  The goal was for the Task Force analysis to support States in implementing the Addis Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Panel Discussion

The Forum held a panel discussion on the “2017 report of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development”, moderated by Shari Spiegel, Chief, Policy Analysis and Development, Financing for Development Office, Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  The panel featured presentations by Yonov Frederick Agah, Deputy Director-General, WTO; Siddarth Tiwari, Director, Strategy Policy and Review Department, IMF; Richard Kozul-Wright, Director, Division on Globalization and Development Strategies, UNCTAD; Pedro Conceição, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP; and David Kuijper, Adviser, Financing for Development, World Bank Group.

Ms. SPIEGEL said the Task Force report contained an opening segment on the implementation of the Addis Agenda, a thematic chapter, and subsequent chapters on each area of that instrument.  It had found that slow growth and a challenging economic environment, while improving, had hampered implementation of the Agenda.  It was unlikely that the goal of eliminating poverty would be achieved by 2030.  The Task Force also had found that long-term investment in infrastructure and addressing vulnerabilities through social protection floors and a global safety net were needed.  Those two issues, if done right, could create a positive cycle, by helping to achieve the Goals and fostering growth.

Mr. AGAH said one of the report’s central recommendations was that Governments should work together to resist inward-looking and protectionist pressures.  The benefits of opening trade were broad and deep.  Trade generated higher productivity, increased competition, more choice and better prices in the marketplace.  Yet, inadequate attention to those left behind by globalization, trade and technology had raised concerns about the trade system.  Governments must ensure its benefits reached more people.  The policy response should recognize that trade was only one factor contributing to economic change, along with technology and innovation.  WTO had a unique role in fostering equitable trade relations underpinned by common rules agreed by its members.  Strengthening the WTO was essential, he said, calling on Governments and institutions to ensure that the benefits were better understood.  Unequal levels of digital development had limited some countries’ participation in e-commerce.  While access to information and communications technology was necessary, it was not the only factor required for all people to benefit from online trade.

Mr. TIWARI said there was no silver bullet that would “get us to the end” of the Addis Agenda.  International, regional, national and subnational efforts across all areas were needed.  Following the 2008 financial crisis, public and private investment in infrastructure had fallen.  Yet infrastructure was vital for sustaining growth in many countries.  In more than half of low-income countries, the revenue-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio hovered around 15 per cent, which was generally inadequate to provide even basic services, minus wage and other payments.  Thus, a key focus moving forward would be to raise domestic revenues.  The Fund had increased support for doing that by one fifth since 2015.  While “easier said than done”, it required the most attention.

Mr. KOZUL-WRIGHT said the report’s first chapter called for a new growth strategy to achieve the inclusive outcomes embedded in the Goals.  “We don’t have that growth strategy yet,” he said.  Since the 2008 crisis, growth had slowed and inequality had risen, what the IMF called the “new normal”.  The biggest challenge today was the slowdown in public and private investment, and as the Goals represented a call for the biggest investment push in modern history, a major question centred on why investment had slowed.  There were three reasons, first of which was slowing global demand, which impacted profit expectations and was attributed to policy mistakes in advanced economies, notably a one-sided reliance on monetary policy to stimulate demand, which had increased global instability, and distributional constraints.  The second reason was the “financialization of corporate strategies”.  Corporations had moved into short-term, rent-seeking behaviour which was detrimental to long-term productive investment.  The third reason was the drag from high debt dependence, with debt stocks having risen by $50 trillion since 2008.  Investment had declined across the board in both developed and developing countries.  In seeking a new global growth strategy, those systemic challenges must be addressed.  There was an essential need for developing countries to expand their fiscal space, while a far more ambitious set of mechanisms must be created to address debt overhang and related problems.

Mr. CONCEIÇÃO said the Goals were “coming to life”, known by the public and increasingly being integrated into national plans, strategies and budgets.  Countries today were asking UNDP how to prioritize their plans to achieve the Goals, and then finance those priorities.  One Addis Agenda recommendation had to do with integrated national financing frameworks, which he called visionary, as countries required a holistic approach.  Part of those efforts involved aligning resources to implement the Goals.  The report referred to development finance assessments, which helped countries establish a baseline for financing flows and policy institutions to help them formulate national financing frameworks.  Another recommendation had to do with vulnerability.  It was becoming clear that a major risk to implementation of the Goals had to do with how countries suffered shocks, whether from conflict, trade or climate.  Thus, the report addressed social protections and financing instruments that allowed countries to address systematic shocks, and referred to State-contingent financing instruments in that context.

Mr. KUIJPER addressed the issue of countries and markets that were under stress — whether from fragility, environmental factors or displacement.  Three quarters of the global poor lived in such countries and it was important to tackle the transformation required in them in an innovative manner.  The main obligation was to connect growth opportunities to the global financial system, with a view to connecting them to long-term finance.  There were two ways to do that.  One was through official development assistance (ODA).  The fundamentals that fostered risk could not be addressed unless there were significant channels of ODA to those countries.  A second way centred on gender.  Globally, some countries were losing 5 to 30 per cent of growth due to a lack of gender-sensitive policies and others that led to the advancement of women’s position in the economy.

Mr. TIWARI, responding to a second question by Ms. Spiegel, said the medium-term forecast for developing countries was lower than projected in 2015, with growth between 2015 and 2020 weaker mainly for oil producers and exporters.  Budget revenues had fallen, as had net flows to low-income countries.  As to why investment was not increasing, he said there was no liquidity in terms of raising capital.  Before 2008, productivity and the share of labour income were falling, which likely had constrained investment.  Public balance sheets were strained.  “Productivity needs to rise,” he said.  Without it, neither public nor private investment would increase.  Innovation, a major productivity driver, also must increase and be inclusive.  He advocated skills development, without which large parts of the population would be left behind.  He cited Denmark and Singapore with national strategies and skill development programmes as two countries that had kept up with a changing landscape.

Mr. KOZUL-WRIGHT said “getting the macroeconomics right” was fundamental to building the sustainable growth path that the world needed.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was rightly ambitious.  It was unclear, however, whether there was an ambitious environment in which to pursue it.  He called 1947 “the year that multilateralism started”.  The IMF had opened, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) had been initiated, the United Nations had been established, its regional commissions had held their first conference, importantly, on trade and employment, and the Marshall Plan — the most ambitious development cooperation plan in history — had been inaugurated.  Ambition was an issue to place on the table.

Mr. CONCEIÇÃO agreed that productivity must increase, especially through technology use.  However, evidence had shown a delinking between labour productivity increases and average family earnings in both developed and developing countries.  “We have to examine the role of technology,” he said.  On one hand, there was no lack of savings.  On the other, investment needs were massive, even without the Goals and notably for infrastructure.  ODA was relevant for countries that had shifted to a higher income level but were still vulnerable.

Mr. KUIJPER agreed that the spirit of 1947 must return.  “We need to create a similar kind of momentum behind this Agenda,” he said, citing an enormous challenge of “getting the financing for development process right”.  The creation of good ideas required a process in which many ideas could flow.

Mr. AGAH said the issue of inclusive growth must start with trade, markets productive capacity and competitiveness.  Each country, depending on its economic and political situation, could adapt complementary policies in investment, infrastructure or other areas to achieve its goals.

In the ensuing discussion, a speaker from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) commented that its data and measurement frameworks were global public goods.  Bangladesh’s delegate asked Mr. Tiwari whether it was possible to address domestic resource mobilization, without addressing illicit flows, through international cooperation.  A speaker from the World Health Organization (WHO) said that page 33 of the Task Force report referred to tobacco taxation, which he called a “low-lying fruit” as a revenue stream for financing development.  Algeria’s delegate said the report’s section on trade did not fully consider recommendations of the joint report by WTO, the World Bank and IMF, and asked whether its content would be integrated into the next Task Force report.  The European Union representative welcomed the well-balanced report, and contributions by OECD, asking whether the 2018 Forum, to be held from 23 to 26 April, would have the latest data available.  Ms. SPIEGEL replied to the latter question that the Task Force could not update the report with the latest OECD data, due to printing deadlines.  However, the website could be updated.

Responding to those queries, Mr. CONCEIÇÃO said there was potential for innovative financing mechanisms.

Mr. KUIJPER, on the issue of tobacco taxation, said lessons could be learned from other experiences in innovation.

Mr. AGAH said that how well countries negotiated outcomes from the Doha round of trade talks depended on those involved.  The report by WTO, IMF and the World Bank had a slightly different focus.  Trade gains could never be equally distributed.  There would always be losers.  He advocated for examining competitiveness, and how well countries participated in markets.

Mr. TIWARI said a chapter in IMF’s World Economic Outlook examined labour income, which had fallen over the years, due in part to technology.

Mr. KOZUL-WRIGHT said trade gains were always significant in a perfectly competitive and informed marketplace and uncertain in an imperfect one.

Round Table A

Following the panel discussion, the Forum held a round table on “domestic and international public resources”.  Moderated by Pooja Rangaprasad, Policy Coordinator, Financial Transparency Coalition, it featured presentations by Darrell Bradley, Mayor of Belize City; Elfrieda Steward Tamba, Commissioner General, Liberia Revenue Authority; Philippe Orliange, Director, Agence Française de Développement; and Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director, Development Cooperation Directorate, OECD.

Opening the discussion, Ms. RANGAPRASAD said that the Addis Agenda recognized the centrality of mobilizing and effectively using domestic resources to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and of complementing those efforts through scaled-up international public financial support, especially in the poorest and most vulnerable countries.  Policies to increase tax revenues had important implications for gender bias since women spent a larger portion of their income on basic goods while also getting paid lower wages than men.  Therefore, it was necessary to look into gender budgeting as a tool while also increasing commitments for dedicating aid and resources for gender equality.

Mr. BRADLEY citing a recent OECD study which showed that subnational governments currently generated as much as 40 per cent of the public investment, said that, when 30 per cent of national resources were granted to local governments, they were able to produce 50 per cent of the public investment.  In Belize, cash transfers from the central Government represented only 6 per cent of the annual budget for the Belize City council and the actual sum transferred had remained constant for the past 15 years despite an increasing population.  Local governments in Belize had filled the finance gap through creative strategies, which in turn required strong local leadership with a commitment to transparency and meaningful citizen engagement.  National Governments must create and supplement the legal, structural and policy frameworks that allowed empowered local governments to develop into relevant, effective and complementary branches of government.

Ms. TAMBA, noting that Africa hosted 65 per cent of the world’s ultra-poor and Liberia stood third among the least developed countries in the region, recalled the dip in Liberia’s economy due to the Ebola outbreak.  Nevertheless domestic revenue had increased between 2006 and 2013 due to strong growth and smart reforms in revenue administration.  She cited effective tools for public financing at the local level such as budget appropriations through the Country Development Fund and social contracts with endowed countries through the Social Development Fund.  In the last five years, Liberia had received $238 million in grants and $191 million in loans from international sources, representing 9 per cent and 7 per cent of the country’s total revenue respectively.  Stressing the importance of strengthening local systems for better resource management, she said that development banks had an important role in providing financing for sustainable development in Liberia.  The impact of ODA could also be maximized by building a social contract for eliminating leaks in revenue flow caused by transfer pricing, money-laundering, poor legislation and illicit flows.

Mr. ORLIANGE, calling development finance the “third pillar of development”, said that with 23 national, regional and international development banks, and cumulative assets of $3 trillion, the International Development Finance Club had a key role in domestic resource mobilization which could finance local governments.  There was also international recognition of the role of development banks as key implementing entities for international funds such as the Green Climate Fund.  The Club provided a collaborative platform for practitioners of development finance, as members could exchange experiences, disseminate best practices, identify areas of common interest for cooperation, and combine their financial and intellectual resources.  The Club’s key aim was to advocate for measuring and mainstreaming climate finance and facilitating access to financing for projects and their preparation.  The Club was fully aligned with the development finance agenda, he said, calling on the United Nations system and the Forum to bear in mind the potential of development banks.

Mr. DA SILVA, noting that his organization was the custodian of ODA, said that development aid had reached a new peak in 2016 as refugee costs had increased.  ODA still represented as much as 70 per cent of external financing for many least developed countries, and his organization was also catalysing investment in Sustainable Development Goal-critical sectors and strengthening development finance accountability and incentives.  Going beyond ODA statistically and analytically, it was necessary to put in place better measurement frameworks.  His organization was collaborating with the United Nations systems in developing the total official support for sustainable development which would help better understand the new international financing landscape.  Turning to the global outlook on financing for development, he said that OECD was supporting that through innovative research on financing, policy synergies and trade-offs, as well as by creating a nexus between external thinkers and practitioners.

A speaker from the IMF then took the floor, saying that while there had been enormous progress, figures showed that in half of the lowest income countries, less than 15 per cent of GDP was being raised through tax revenues.  The Fund aimed to help developing countries with revenue outcomes by improving the structure and fairness of national tax systems.  Highlighting the importance of international cooperation in revenue reforms, she said that it was crucial to harness synergies between major international financial institutions.  The Fund had worked with partner institutions to create a platform for collaboration on taxation.

In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Algeria asked the panellists how to improve accountability in the use of public financing.  A representative of Citigroup commented on the importance of harnessing private-sector resources to improve development financing.  Belgium’s representative said his Government followed a policy of giving tax exemptions to public financing projects, while a civil society representative noted that some countries in both the North and South followed regressive taxation policies which adversely affected resources available for public financing.

Responding to those queries, Mr. DA SILVA said that total official support for sustainable development could provide an added value to the discussion on transparency and accountability.  Stressing the importance of new sources of information, he added that it was important to get the total official support for sustainable development methodology endorsed widely so that it could be used for effective stock-taking.

Mr. ORLIANGE said that development banks were built to take risks that others couldn’t take, and therefore, instead of focusing on short-term gains, they could provide financing over the long term, whether for infrastructure or social programmes.  On the question of regressive taxation, he said that it was difficult to finance public policy if taxation rates were too low.  Countries had to take national decisions about their own policies but “if you have regressive taxation, you are digging the inequalities deeper,” he said.

Ms. TAMBA said that domestic resource mobilization was especially crucial in Africa and with the changing international taxation landscape, Liberia and Africa as a whole stood to benefit.  She called on developed countries to “walk the talk.”

Mr. BRADLEY said that in order to be meaningful, all strategies and interventions for improving the quality of life should be owned by the community.  Decentralization was crucial to achieving that, and a multilevel government framework based on transparency and trust would enable people to see local government as a relevant development partner.  The magic of local government was that it was closest to people, and it was positioned to listen to the concerns of women, indigenous people and other vulnerable groups.

Round Table B

In the afternoon, the Forum held a round table on “domestic and international private business and finance”.  Moderated by Preeti Sinha, Senior President, YES Institute, it featured presentations by Courtney Rattray, Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations; Hervé Duteil, Managing Director, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Finance for the Americas, BNP Paribas; Naohiro Nishiguchi, Executive Managing Director, Japan Innovation Network; Nidia Reyes, Chief of Competitive Intelligence, Banca de las Oportunidades, Colombia; and Leora Klapper, Lead Economist, Development Research, World Bank Group.

Ms. SINHA quoted Mahatma Gandhi to say “the rich must live more simply so that the poor may simply live”.  All countries were developing countries in that they were struggling to address climate change and other social issues.  The 2030 Agenda offered a way to bring public and private finance together.  YES Bank, founded by Rana Kapoor, had a market capitalization of $10 billion, showing that “emerging markets do offer returns”.  Sustainable Development Goals finance should be led by the private sector, followed by the United Nations, as $3 trillion would be needed annually.  The major question hinged on balancing that need with the funds available, $218 trillion of which was in global capital markets and $75 billion in the “impact industry”.

Mr. RATTRAY said following the Addis Agenda, many felt that “something was missing”.  There was a need for a State-based mechanism that would unlock the trillions of dollars needed per year to finance development.  The new body — the Group of Friends — had 56 members, many of whom were ambassadors, along with experts from the United Nations, the private sector and think tanks.  States had a legitimate role in reorienting the financial system towards the Goals.  Most assets under its management were held by insurance, private wealth and mutual funds.  Central to its efforts to attract capital was convening a broad array of stakeholders.  The Group of Friends engaged stakeholders to holistically assess risk by having investors price in externalities.  It also worked with regulators to prevent capital from being misallocated.  There was a need to foster domestic capacity to develop “bankable” projects, he said, noting that the Group was working with Blackrock in that context.

Mr. DUTEIL described the need to place the goal of financing sustainability “on the business map”.  BNP Paribas had traditionally mapped its business along economic, civic, environmental and social pillars, but then further mapped it along the 17 Goals, setting targets and incentives.  As a result, the first of its 13 public key performance indicators was that 15 per cent of its loans to companies must finance projects or companies that directly addressed one of the Goals.  Today, that percentage was 16.5 per cent.  Realizing those 13 indicators would also directly affect the compensation of its top officers.  BNP Paribas was also implementing a shadow carbon price into the credit analysis of its counterparties in key sectors.  In unlocking private pools of capital, much of the challenge revolved around return, risk, liquidity and time horizons.  Noting that $41 trillion would change hands from the “Baby Boomers” to the “Gen X” and “Millennial” generations, he said that impact investing, which represented less than 0.5 per cent of portfolios, would remain small and “the privilege of the happy few who have a few billion to spare”.  The good news was that banks were in the business of creating bridges between capital and projects in need of funding.  As an example, he described a sustainable bond linked to the Goals that was recently issued by the World Bank and underwritten by BNP Paribas.  The bond directly financed sustainable projects around the world supported by the World Bank but offered to investors a return linked to the stock performance of a basket of equities issued by corporations which directly supported the Goals through at least 20 per cent of their activities.  While banks could create new financing tools for the Goals with the support of partners like multilateral development banks, those products still had to be distributed and bought.  That was where positive regulation that encouraged impact investing could solve part of the conundrum.

Mr. NISHIGUCHI said that in 2016, UNDP and the Japan Innovation Network had launched the Sustainable Development Goals Holistic Innovation Platform to engage the private sector in increasing the pipeline of bankable projects to help achieve the Goals.  The Platform had 300 individual members and 75 companies, with more expected to join this year.  It was critical for any private-sector player to create a “passage” between the Goals and cash flow.  To do so, it was important to understand the innovation process, especially the incubation stage.  It was important to have a high-quality incubation stage, as it would articulate the challenges (the Goals), the client value and the business model.  The operational stage captured the business plan, the finance and the roll out.  He underscored the need to look at the Goals, not as corporate social responsibility, but as a business programme.  Thematic sessions organized for specific Goals had produced hypothetical business models and involved countries including Kenya, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Egypt, Madagascar, South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania.  To increase the pipeline, the private sector must regard the Goals as an innovation not an operational project, as well as connect multiple Goals as a way to deepen solutions.  A typical enemy was a silo mentality, he said, stressing that achieving the Goals required a collaborative approach.

Ms. REYES focused on collaborative approaches to ensure innovation in the provision of financial services.  Colombia’s financial inclusion policy was based on an 11-year commitment to provide resources and transfer both capital and innovation to the private sector to help meet the needs of low-income people.  Simplified mechanisms had been created, establishing limits to the amounts that could be held in products that could reach low-income people, such as inclusive insurance.  In the case of microcredit and small loans, which did not exceed $460, the bank tried to make interest rates more flexible to incorporate the risk involved in supporting a segment of the population that would otherwise not be able to access lending.  In the future, Colombia would focus on raising more financial products and using them effectively, as well as deepening financial inclusion in the rural sector, as many products in Latin American countries were concentrated in urban areas.  Alternative mechanisms were needed to help small businesses access financing.  Colombia had brought together all Government and private entities involved in raising the level of economic and financial education.

Ms. KLAPPER said today’s discussion on raising financing for Governments and the private sector must be widened to include households and small- and medium-sized firms, as well as savings and payments.  The Bank’s Findex data measured how people saved, borrowed and managed payments, she said, explaining that there had been double-digit growth since 2001, when data were first collected.  India’s biometric identification system allowed the Government to roll out 200 million such accounts for people to access cheap food and fuel.  In China, merchant store keepers could now do financial transactions in rural areas.  Indeed, access to digital payments could help achieve the Goals.  In India, the roll out of bank branches had reduced poverty by 15 percentage points, while insurance projects in Ghana had also reduced poverty.  Financial inclusion could promote innovation.  In India and Bosnia and Herzegovina, giving entrepreneurs access to savings products and credit had led to growth, and in turn, more women’s economic empowerment.  In Kenya, Nepal, the Philippines and elsewhere, offering a woman an account had led to greater spending on food and household goods, even washing machines.  There were obstacles, especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises, which had a $2 trillion shortfall in needed credit, which was hampered by a weak credit information structure and “movable collateral registries” which made it difficult for banks to assess risks.  Research by Harvard University had found that firms investing more in sustainable standards had higher market performance and profitability.

In the ensuing discussion, a speaker from the United Nations Global Compact said foreign direct investment and corporate capital investment should be driven by a principles-based approach.  Otherwise, fundamental rights could be undermined.  A revolution was needed for new financial instruments that cut across the asset classes and Goals alike.  He asked about public policy frameworks that could mobilize private finance.  Japan’s delegate asked for ideas on a risk-sharing mechanism, and about the Government’s role in the Sustainable Development Goals Holistic Innovation Platform.  Chile’s delegate asked about challenges in implementing the various projects, while Uganda’s delegate asked about mobile money transfers substantively contributed to poverty reduction or simply “income smoothing”.  Peru’s delegate asked about progress in expanding financial services to people in poverty, as well as best practices for financial literacy and consumer protection.

A speaker from PRI, an association of 1,700 financial organizations managing $70 trillion, said one question commonly raised was whether a mechanism was in place to monitor the allocation of capital to be used for the Goals.  Canada’s delegate asked how the United Nations could help develop the pipeline of bankable projects, and more broadly about the asymmetry of information regarding risk, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and whether the Sustainable Development Goals Holistic Innovation Platform accepted companies from outside Japan.  A speaker representing civil society described an erosion of public interest by public-private partnerships, in part because of heavy contractual clauses with implications for Governments.  There was a great role for private financing, especially through small enterprises, which required different types of business support to build capacity and participate in markets.

Mr. RATTRAY responded that in mobilizing resources, countries must be assisted in developing capital markets, which was not simple.  They must also be encouraged to have a higher savings rate, which similarly would not happen overnight.  “We are conscious that the clock is ticking,” he stressed.

Mr. DUTEIL replied that public policy could mobilize capital at scale.  France had enacted a “90:10” scheme for companies with more than 50 employees, obliging them to offer employees access to funds that invested 5 to 10 per cent in impact investing, allocated to non-listed small- and medium-sized enterprises.  The result had been massive and offered an example of how public policy could be positive without being coercive.  Another example was the Tropical Landscapes Financing Facility, whereby investors invested in well-known entities, which in turn, redistributed the funds to small farmers.

Mr. NISHIGUCHI said the Platform would work with private sector, Governments and non-governmental organizations from any country, and was particularly interested in speaking with start-up communities.  Governments could help connect the Platform with start-ups and support the incubation stage, which would be a huge boost to creating bankable projects.

Ms. REYES said supporting the private sector in taking a risk on high-risk sectors involved co-financing incentives, as well as transferring technical assistance to them.  There was much to be done in terms of technology transfer.  On financial literacy, it was important to define objectives in a work plan coordinated among all players.

Ms. KLAPPER said financial inclusion should reduce poverty because it allowed people to invest in education and business opportunities.  It also prevented poor adults from falling into poverty during a crisis, such as the death of a family member.  There was evidence that in an emergency people received support from a geographically and socially wider group of friends.  On financial literacy, no academic literature had found that traditional textbook-based financial literacy worked.  What appeared to be better were “teachable moments” for explaining interest compounding, for example.  Fintech had positively impacted rural farmers repaying credit loans in sub-Saharan Africa, for example.

Round Table C

The Forum then held its final round table for the day, on “debt and systemic issues”.  Moderated by Siddharth Tiwari, Director, Strategy and Policy Review Department, IMF, it featured presentations by Angus Friday, Ambassador of Grenada to the United States; Camillo von Müller, Economist, Federal Ministry of Finance, Germany; Marilou Uy, Executive Director, International Group of 24 (G24) Secretariat; and Patricia Miranda, Senior Officer on Finance for Development, Latindadd Fundación Jubileo, Bolivia.

In his opening remarks, Mr. TIWARI said that the IMF was committed to strengthening global financial architecture.  The issues ranged from completing IMF quotas in governance reform to addressing gaps in global safety nets.  It was essential to provide the right framework to encourage early debtor-creditor engagement towards efficient and timely restructuring.

Mr. FRIDAY said that from the lens of a small island developing State such as his, it was necessary to acknowledge debt sustainability challenges and recognize the need for urgent solutions.  Since 1950, there had been 184 natural disasters in the Caribbean, resulting in damages worth $8 billion.  In Grenada alone, the hurricane in 2004 caused a 200 per cent loss of its GDP.  Emphasizing the links between years of extreme weather events and high levels of indebtedness, he said that debt restructuring had not worked successfully because there was a stepping up of interest rates and not enough local ownership.  The financial crisis and the impact on tourism had caused Grenada to default on its debt payments at the end of 2014.  In response, Grenada had brought together civil society and Government to create a social compact on spending and financing.  Grenada had also introduced a hurricane clause in its contracts with lenders, noting that the debts would be deferred in the event of a hurricane.  As of Tuesday, the IMF had completed its sixth review of Grenada and the country had passed with flying colours.

Mr. VON MULLER said that state-contingent debt instruments had an important role to play in the international financial architecture, in building resilience and improving sustainability.  Noting that the finance ministers and central bank governors of the G-20 had formulated a clear mission with regard to such instruments in the Chengdu communiqué, she said that during its G-20 presidency, Germany had responded to the call for further analysis of their technicalities, opportunities and challenges.  The history of state-contingent debt instruments showed the importance of contract designs, as well as the incentives and data credibility.  While GDP-linked bonds could be beneficial instruments when designed to generate fiscal space in difficult economic times, it was necessary to take steps to reduce the costs of insurance and carefully assess international demand.

Ms. UY said that global financial reforms had a wide range of effects on developing countries.  The Addis Agenda had acknowledged the importance of creating a coherent and inclusive global financial architecture.  The international monetary system must mitigate tensions and promote stability while supporting growth strategies of individual countries.  That was particularly important for emerging economies, whose growth rates had slowed recently.  While macroeconomic and structural policies constituted the first line of defence, in a highly interconnected globe efforts to manage global economic headwinds needed to be supported by multilateral action.  While the opening of financial borders had helped create capital flows, there were persistent problems with capital flow measures.  Policy differences between different countries could cause exchange-rate volatility, which in turn, created uncertainty and disrupted investment.  Better policy coordination was necessary and the IMF could play an important role in that.

Ms. MIRANDA said that it was vital to understand the composition of debt, which could originate from a variety of sources.  Besides traditional external credits for fiscal gaps, there were also sovereign bonds issued by other countries, including lower middle-income countries.  Furthermore, there was domestic debt and corporate debt, which had been rising in the last few years.  Subnational debt, from local governments and State-owned enterprises, could lead to fiscal risk.  Moreover, public-private partnerships could also give rise to debt.  While the Addis Agenda had reaffirmed the importance of a timely and independent debt restructuring process, it was necessary to go beyond those principles.  Reminding the Council that if developed countries fell into debt distress, it would have a systemic impact on the global economy, she called attention to the negative social impacts of debt, saying that it had taken Latin America two decades to recover from the effects of debt on the most marginalized peoples.

In the ensuing discussion, representatives of civil society highlighted the importance of responsible investment and safety nets, and asked about the growth of the shadow banking system, which included lightly regulated hedge funds.  Yet another representative of civil society asked about the lack of movement in regulating financial markets while a fourth representative noted that the “elephant in the room” underlying the debt issue was the classical mismatch between currencies.

Responding, Mr. FRIDAY agreed with the need for stronger safeguards and noted that more and more extreme weather events could be expected in the future.  Therefore, hurricane clauses should be automatically included, particularly for small island developing States.  Mr. MULLER said that GDP-linked bonds should be seen as part of a toolkit that contributed to debt sustainability.  Ms. UY said that it was time to assess the impact of financial sector regulatory reforms.

Mr. TIWARI said that the promise of jobs and higher incomes hinged crucially on creating the right environment for sustainable growth.  Infrastructure was a prerequisite for that kind of growth.  The strengthening of standards regulating financial instruments had resulted in unintended consequences such as the shift to shadow banks.  Ms. MIRANDA stressed the importance of transparency and open data, which she noted was a challenge not only for international financial institutions, but also for States.  Debt could be a symptom that there was something wrong in the economy, and therefore, it was necessary to look at the larger picture including tax systems, she said.

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Fresh Thinking, Better Coordination, Concrete Action Critical to Delivering on 2030 Agenda, Speakers Say, as Development Cooperation Forum Begins

Road Ahead ‘Undoubtedly Complex’, Keynote Speaker Cautions, as Deputy Secretary-General Applauds Strong Foundation Built on 2015 Accords

Effective development cooperation — marked by fresh thinking, better coordination and concrete action — would be critical to making good on the unprecedented opportunities presented by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, speakers said today, as the Development Cooperation Forum opened its fifth biennial high-level meeting.

In the course of several interactive discussions held under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council, the Forum heard from a range of Government ministers, heads of United Nations agencies and civil society leaders.  Among other subjects, they considered the role of various types of development financing and the interlinkages between the 2030 Agenda and other international agreements signed in 2015.

“The road ahead is undoubtedly complex,” said Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice, former President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as she delivered a keynote address.  She emphasized nevertheless that development cooperation providers must recognize the unprecedented chance they now had to shape a more equitable world.  Noting that not all current ways of working would prove effective in implementing the 2030 Agenda, and that many mechanisms would need to be reformed or refreshed, she stressed that human rights and gender equality must underpin implementation of both the 2030 Agenda and the recently signed Paris Agreement on climate change.  Indeed, climate change solutions offered opportunities to help eradicate poverty, she added.

Also addressing the Forum, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson commended Member States for having built a strong foundation for future development cooperation through the host of international agreements signed in 2015.  In particular, the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement — as well as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for Development Financing — demanded new thinking and concrete actions that would permeate all levels of society.

Spotlighting the Forum’s critical role in reshaping global development cooperation, Oh Joon (Republic of Korea), President of the Economic and Social Council, said the body provided opportunities for partners to engage against the backdrop of an increasingly complex and volatile global landscape.  Among other things, the Forum would bring a distinct development cooperation perspective to such issues as South-South cooperation, blended finance and technology transfer, he said.

Wang Bingnan, China’s Assistant Minister for Commerce, agreed that the recent international agreements would chart the course for the future of development cooperation.  While some strides had been made, however, development remained a strenuous task for many countries still plagued by poverty, he said, noting that the 2030 Agenda provided a fresh opportunity to find a new path.

Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary to Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, said the 2030 Agenda marked a new culture of shared responsibility and partnership.  Concerning financing, he pointed out that official spending on development was just one contribution among many, adding that private finance must be encouraged.  Mobilizing domestic resources would be critical, he said, also emphasizing the necessity of fair consumption and production.  Tax evasion and money-laundering must be addressed, and environmental, labour and social standards implemented along the global supply chain.

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, presented the Secretary-General’s report on trends and progress in international development cooperation (document E/2016/65).  He said one overarching theme emerging from it was the importance and potential of development cooperation as a lever for the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  He listed a number of recommendations relating to the fulfilment of development cooperation commitments, including the building of partnerships and the importance of robust national monitoring and review mechanisms.

Throughout the day, the Forum held three interactive sessions, the first on “Supporting national efforts to achieve the full ambition of the 2030 Agenda, leaving no one behind”.  The theme for the second was “Aligning development cooperation to contribute to the different aspects of the 2030 Agenda”, and the third was titled “Southern partners advancing mutual learning and envisioning the contribution of South-South Cooperation for sustainable development”.  The Forum also held a panel discussion on “Infrastructure for sustainable development for all”.

The High-Level Political Forum will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Friday, 22 July, to conclude its high-level segment.

Panel I

Laura Chinchilla Miranda, former President of Costa Rica and a member of the Club de Madrid, was the keynote speaker in the day’s first panel discussion, on “Infrastructure for sustainable development for all”.  Homi Kharas, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the Global Economy and Development Program at the Brookings Institution, moderated the discussion, which featured the following panellists:  Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister for Environment and Energy, Maldives; John B. Ssekamatte-Ssebuliba, Head, Population and Social Sector Planning, National Planning Authority, Uganda; Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Special Envoy on Gender, African Development Bank and former Minister for Welfare and Population Development, South Africa; Laurence Carter, World Bank Lead for Infrastructure Forum, Senior Director, Public Private Partnerships; and Amar Bhattacharya, Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development Program, Brookings Institution.  The lead discussant was Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Ms. CHINCHILLA said human beings were and would always be vulnerable, depending on other humans and other species, as well as the environment.  While lives and societies had become extremely complex amid persisting human vulnerability, advances in communications, transportation and other areas meant that people now lived better and longer than those of past generations.  However, infrastructure development should not be considered to be an end, in and of itself, she cautioned.  Scientific knowledge and progress gave hope that environmental protection could be more efficient, and science provided the only means to resolve current social and economic challenges.  Due to short-sightedness, not every infrastructure project respected or protected the environment.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was a step in the right direction, particularly Sustainable Development Goal 9, on infrastructure and innovation, she said.

Emphasizing that leaders must work intensively to make States less corrupt, less bureaucratic and more efficient, she said today’s States had less capacity and fewer resources with which to build sustainable and modern infrastructure on their own.  The participation of citizens in the formulation of political solutions made such processes more participatory and strengthened elements of governance.  Societies were not owned by any one sector; rather they belonged to everyone, she pointed out.  Involving people in decision-making would result in better choices and outcomes, as well as support for the implementation of projects.  Costa Rica’s entire population was involved in setting the national carbon neutrality target, which encouraged their active engagement in meeting that goal.

She went on to warn that Sustainable Development Goal 9 could be put at risk by poor planning, although it could also be bolstered by activities taken under the other Goals, such as the one focused on building resilient societies.  Financial investment in small-scale farmers, particularly women, could help to achieve significant improvements in communities and environments, as could investment in public transportation.  Nevertheless, infrastructure projects continued to be delayed or pursued in an unsustainable manner, she said.

Mr. KHARAS said the funding of infrastructure remained a challenge, particularly the way in which risk was allocated across different elements of finance, which was more of a concern than the total amount of dollars.  The development of infrastructure from origination to actual delivery often took longer than a decade, which meant that infrastructure projects undertaken in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals must be started immediately, he stressed.

Mr. IBRAHIM said the need for quality, resilient infrastructure had been made clear through Goal 9.  The infrastructure gap between developed and developing countries was obvious, particularly when taking into account the needs of small island developing States, as elaborated in the Samoa Pathway.  Investment in new sustainable and resilient infrastructure must be a priority moving forward.  Connectivity and transportation challenges made infrastructure development particularly critical in small island developing States because it hinged on creating an enabling environment on both the national and international levels.  Private finance remained difficult to procure, as small island developing States were often identified as high-risk investment environments.

Mr. SSEKAMATTE-SSEBULIBA said Uganda’s first national development plan had ended in 2015, and the second would begin in 2016 under the theme “Strengthening Uganda’s competitiveness”.  The overarching national development paradigm entailed prioritizing the exploitation of the country’s natural resources, which required a special focus on infrastructure, since the entire country must be accessible in order to ensure that opportunities were maximized, he said.  Also of key importance to Uganda was human capital development and investment in transport, energy and information and communications technology.  Economic investment in Uganda required a balancing act that paid due consideration to environmental and social factors.

Ms. FRASER-MOLEKETI emphasized that infrastructure was critical to sustainable development, adding that the African Development Bank was focused on three main areas across Africa — energy, agriculture and industrialization.  Infrastructure was central to the delivery of each of those strategic goals.  However, there must be an awareness of the reality that infrastructure development did not uniformly meet the needs of all people, nor did it benefit all people in a consistent fashion.  Project development must be understood by the market as a distinct investment process, particularly given the lack of public resources, she said.  Development funding was considered one of the riskiest investments, which made limited finance a major restraint.

Mr. CARTER said there was still quite a lot of work to do to encourage greater private-sector involvement in infrastructure development.  Recalling the Global Infrastructure Forum’s first session, he said participants had expressed a clear commitment to making infrastructure development goals and targets operational.  Many of them had emphasized the importance of improving data, promoting capacity development, strengthening project preparation, expanding the availability of financing, and the need for greater involvement by regional and domestic financing institutions.

Mr. BHATTACHARYA said there was a vital focus on how to re-ignite global growth, how to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and how to take strong climate action.  Sustainable infrastructure would be at the heart of all three of those objectives, he said, adding that structural reform would be important, but took a great deal of time.  The next 20 years would be of crucial importance since the investments being made were both large and long-lasting.  It was clear that infrastructure would be developed, but the way in which it was constructed mattered a great deal and would make a huge difference in terms of efficiency and enduring impacts.

Mr. GASS said the need for infrastructure development had been clearly articulated by the panellists, particularly the need to ensure access to both services and to the rest of the world.  Mobilizing the multilateral world would be a turning point in that regard.  Questioning whether sustainable development had redefined the word “sustainability”, he recalled that the term had been used for quite some time, but whether there had been a shift in the understanding of what it meant now was questionable.  He asked the panellists to provide specific examples of high-quality infrastructure projects.

Mr. CARTER, responding in the ensuing discussion, said there was more work to be done in standardizing the processes for stakeholder assessments.  Public-private partnerships were only one tool and expectations for such partnerships should be moderated, he cautioned.

Mr. IBRAHIM said sustainable infrastructure was of critical importance for small island developing States, and funding for such projects was needed immediately due to the effects of climate change.  However, it was difficult to attract financing sources because the projects were generally quite small and not viewed as being profitable.

Mr. BHATTACHARYA agreed that although public-private partnerships were very important, they were not a panacea.  He noted that in emerging markets, the risks were very high during the construction phase, a fact that attached high importance to the management of risk throughout the project cycle.

The representative of Croatia said housing would be of great importance in the future given the expected population increases.  Billions of people were expected to move to urban areas in the coming decades, which could present an acute problem given the length of time it often took to complete infrastructure projects in the developing world.

The representative of Ghana said women and girls felt the lack of infrastructure particularly acutely.  Given Africa’s particular infrastructure needs, how could its countries position themselves so that their development aspirations could be realized?

Ms. FRASER-MOLEKETI agreed that inclusive infrastructure was, in fact, a gender issue that deserved due consideration.

The representative of China emphasized the need for countries to pursue their own independent development projects and to create their own strategies for infrastructure development based on their own particular circumstances.

Also speaking today were representatives of Sri Lanka, Maldives and Cameroon.

Development Cooperation Forum

The Council then opened the fifth biennial High-Level Meeting of its Development Cooperation Forum.

OH JOON (Republic of Korea), President of the Council, said in opening remarks that the Forum’s work was focused on the growing role of development cooperation, including its tremendous potential in implementing the 2030 Agenda.  In its current two-year cycle, the body had provided valuable input to that Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for Financing for Development in their early implementation phases, and it would continue to play an instrumental role in their follow—up and review.  In an increasingly volatile and complex development cooperation landscape, the Forum provided a unique opportunity to engage and share best practices and lessons learned.  Noting that many Member States had participated in the Forum’s three preparatory sessions, he underscored the need to align development cooperation and its institutions with the 2030 Agenda.  Among other things, the Forum would take a distinct development cooperation perspective to such issues as South-South cooperation, blended finance and technology transfer.

JAN ELIASSON, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, stressed that the world was witnessing turbulent and uncertain times, with deep inequalities among and within countries and conflicts and terrorism threatening the entire international community.  Global economic growth was sluggish and global temperatures were rising.  Commending Member States for building a strong foundation for future development cooperation in 2015, he said there was now an obligation to live up to those high ambitions.  International development cooperation was based on the recognition that global challenges could not be survived or overcome in isolation.  “Collective support for the poorest and most vulnerable is in the interest of all of us,” he said, stressing that the recent historic agreements — including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Addis Agenda, the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Change Agreement — demanded new thinking and concrete action that permeated all levels of society.

In addition, that “action plan for people, planet, peace, prosperity and partnership” required better coordination and collaboration between countries and region, which he noted was a unique and critical contribution of the Forum.  Sources of development finance were more diverse than ever before, he said, spotlighting in particular the role of the private sector.  Official development assistance (ODA) also needed to be scaled up and targeted more effectively and should support those whose needs were greatest and who were least capable of mobilizing resources.

Development cooperation should promote coherence among different development agendas and activities, he went on.  For example, donor countries had spent record amounts in recent years on humanitarian aid supporting refugees, as the number of people displaced by conflict had risen to the highest level since the Second World War.  While there was a vital and unquestioned need for such aid, it should not come at the expense of long-term investment for sustainable development, which had an important role in building stable societies and preventing future conflict.

WANG BINGNAN, Assistant Minister for Commerce of China, said the recent international agreements highlighted today had charted the course for the future of development cooperation.  While strides had been made, development remained a strenuous task for many countries still plagued by poverty.  Noting that the 2030 Agenda was a forward-looking blueprint in that regard, he stressed that the worth of any plan was in its implementation.  All countries should work together, as the Agenda provided a fresh opportunity to find a new path.  Increased resources were the guarantee of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, emphasizing that developed countries should deliver on their ODA commitments on schedule.  “At the end of the day, one has to rely on oneself” to achieve development outcomes, he said, noting that all States must be respected in their own path to sustainable development.

As the world’s largest developing country, China still faced the daunting challenge of lifting some 55 million people out of poverty, he said.  The country was working to implement the 2030 Agenda in an integrated manner by aligning its national programmes and putting in place a domestic coordination mechanism.  China would also host the “Group of 20” (G20) Summit in September 2016, where it would focus discussions on the delivery of the 2030 Agenda.  For its part, China had provided development assistance across the world for more than 60 years, and it was constantly adopting new methods – such as South-South cooperation – in that regard.  Noting stark imbalances between the global South and North, he expressed concern that 800 million people around the world still went hungry.  China would continue to put justice before interests and live up to its development commitments to help countries around the world achieve the 2030 Agenda, he said.

THOMAS SILBERHORN, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany, stressed that “development is about peace”, and that countries must shoulder their responsibilities to make development sustainable.  The 2030 Agenda marked a new culture of shared responsibility and partnership.  Calling for improved quality in global development cooperation, he said the Forum had demonstrated how willing the international community was to follow that path together.  Germany was contributing in a number of ways, including through its own national sustainable development strategy — which was currently being reviewed and brought in line with the 2030 Agenda — as well as in its support to development partners.  In addition, it was working to bring about sustainable development at the international level through policies for climate protection and by pushing for development-friendly rules.

Official spending on development was just one contribution among many, he said, stressing that “ODA will never be enough”.  Private finance must be encouraged and new financial instruments for channelling private finance for public good would be needed.  Noting that funding generated by taxes would be critical, he said Germany was supporting its partners in domestic resource mobilization.  Consumption and production must become fair, tax evasion and money-laundering must be addressed, and environmental, labour and social standards should be implemented along the entire length of the global supply chain.  Indeed, the 2030 Agenda was a major opportunity and had to become the daily narrative of the United Nations, he said.

Introduction of Report

WU HONGBO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, then introduced the report of the Secretary-General on trends and progress in international development cooperation (document E/2016/65).  One overarching theme had emerged in the report, namely the importance and potential of development cooperation as a lever for the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  Drawing attention to a number of recommendations, he said development cooperation today included a wide variety of international actions and actors, and should remained tightly focused on developing countries’ efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals with a view to leaving no one behind.  That required a change of mindset for all actors, he said, calling on partners to break down silos and better tailor their actions to national contexts.

Development cooperation would facilitate cross-sector partnerships and provide support for policy coherence, he went on.  Noting that it would require an adjustment, he said global institutions should align their strategies, funding and approaches to the 2030 Agenda and that all ODA commitments should be met.  ODA to non-emergency situations had fallen in 2014 due in part to the increasing costs of humanitarian aid.  While that situation was stabilizing, the potential effects of such a trend should be monitored closely.  Noting that ODA could act as a catalyst to mobilize other resources, he said the Forum’s current cycle had focused largely on ODA as a possible leveraging tool in areas such as domestic resource mobilization and public-private partnerships.

Continuing, he said blended finance, in particular, should support national priorities and development impacts.  Development cooperation, including through South-South and triangular cooperation, should take a prominent role in unleashing the transformative power of science, technology and innovation.  Achieving general country ownership and alignment would require a significant shift in development cooperation frameworks.  Development cooperation should promote the use of programme-based approaches, and national plans should be owned by whole societies through institutionalized, participatory processes.  Calling for intensified knowledge-sharing and increased accountability of Governments to their people, he underscored the need for robust national-level monitoring and reviews of commitments, supported by global follow-up and review mechanisms.

Keynote Address

MARY ROBINSON, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation — Climate Justice, and former President of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, delivered a keynote address, saying there was a challenging road ahead to realize the 2030 Agenda.  Not all current ways of working would prove effective in the Agenda’s implementation, and many mechanisms would need to be reformed or refreshed.  In that regard, the high-level panel of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)’s Development Assistance Committee — which she chaired — had been created to reshape the committee to become more “fit for purpose”.  Individually, the successful implementation of either the 2030 Agenda or the Paris Agreement would represent an unprecedented triumph for multilateralism; the international community had embarked on undertaking both simultaneously.  While uncontrolled climate change was incompatible with the eradication of poverty, the Sustainable Development Goals were critical to near-term climate action.

Addressing those issues required an integrated approach with the objective of enhancing the resilience of countries to withstand ever-greater threats, she said.  Noting that “the road ahead is undoubtedly complex”, she said that many complex global challenges had been successfully addressed before, as in the case of the HIV/AIDS response and in protecting the ozone layer through the Montreal Protocol.  Today, meeting Sustainable Development Goal 2 to end hunger would be closely related to the Goals on water, gender equality and sustainable consumption and production, among others.  Such an integrated approach was also central to climate justice, which was informed by science and recognized the need for equitable stewardship of the world’s resources.

Development cooperation providers must recognize the unprecedented opportunity to shape a more equitable world, she stressed, adding that “we require unprecedented multilateral cooperation”.  In addition, human rights and gender equality must underpin the implementation of both the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.  Underscoring the need to reach those left furthest behind first, she warned that by 2040 more than half a billion people in Africa would still lack access to electricity.  Developing climate change solutions held the opportunity to help eradicate poverty, she said in that regard.

Interactive Discussion

The Council then held a brief interactive discussion, moderated by economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram.

Mr. SUNDARAM noted that Ms. Robinson’s participation offered an opportunity to reconcile the United Nations approaches with those of the OECD, which had sometimes been at odds.  Her emphasis on climate justice was critical, he said, underscoring the importance of leaving no one behind.  Ms. Robinson had also stressed the need for an integrated approach.  Several years ago, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs had issued a report advocating for a “global green new deal”, which had suggested that dealing with the aftermath of the financial crisis did not mean putting development on the back burner.  Indeed, he said, it was critical to come out of the global economic slowdown with a view to ensuring that development priorities were met.  Calling in particular for leapfrogging in the area of environmental technology, he said the world today was seeking a modern version of the Marshall Plan, which had been instrumental in reconstructing Europe after the Second World War.

In the ensuing dialogue, several speakers emphasized the important role of development cooperation in helping all States to achieve sustainable development.  They also pointed to particular areas in which the Forum could play an instrumental role.

The representative of Brazil, noting that the Economic and Social Council was working to balance the different concerns of development actors, stressed the need for the Forum to discuss such important issues as trade, technology and finance.  However, he warned that its analysis of the role of development cooperation in implementing the 2030 Agenda must go beyond the issue of financing, and underscored the need for transparent indicators on how private investments were recognizing core sustainable development principles.  The modernization of development cooperation must not serve as a pretext for a revision of sensitive issues for developing countries, he said.

The representative of the Dominican Republic, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said developed countries could establish binding timelines for their development commitments.  Noting that South-South cooperation was an important way to achieve solidarity among countries, she cited several Latin American and Caribbean examples of South-South cooperation on issues such as energy, training, education, culture and the environment.  She also called on the Forum to address the particular needs of middle-income countries.

The representative of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) spotlighted the issue of fossil fuel subsidies, which he said had regrettably not been covered by the Paris Agreement.  Cutting those subsidies would amount to a “double win”, he said, asking Ms. Robinson why there was such slow progress in that important area.

Ms. ROBINSON responded to those questions and comments, agreeing with the speakers on the importance of South-South cooperation.  Fossil fuel subsidies needed to be removed, she said, noting for example that small island developing States had recently called for the phase out of coal.

Panel II

The second panel discussion of the day was titled, “Supporting national efforts to achieve the full ambition of the 2030 Agenda, leaving no one behind”.  Moderated by Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Economist and former Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, it featured a keynote address by Vandi C. Minah, Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the United Nations.

Panellists included:  Jaime Miranda, Deputy Minister of Development Cooperation of El Salvador; Mark Van de Vreken, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation, Digital Agenda, Telecom and Post of Belgium; Anita Nayar, Director of Regions Refocus; Babatunde Osotimehim, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); José Antonia Alonso Rodríguez, Professor of Applied Economics at Complutense University and Member of the United Nations Committee on Development Policy; and Minh-Thu Pham, Director for Policy of the United Nations Foundation.

Mr. MINAH noted that this year had been dedicated to developing comprehensive national plans as to how the 2030 Agenda would be implemented.  Fighting poverty was not new in the history of the United Nations, although unique narratives and approaches would be needed to end poverty and ensure the delivery of needs for both current and future generations.  There was renewed excitement and hope around the Sustainable Development Goals, although it would take commitment to translate that optimism into results.  While development cooperation had become all the more important, new cooperation activities would be needed to achieve the desired results.

Additional financing would be needed to build national, resilient systems able to withstand domestic and external shocks, he said.  Stronger domestic institutions to ensure sustainable financing and blended financing instruments to encourage innovative solutions were also needed.  Institutions in the least developed countries must be strengthened and to ensure domestic financing, illicit financial flows must be curbed.  An estimated $50 billion was lost annually across Africa due to illicit financial flows, including through commercial activities, drugs and terrorist activities and corruption.  The international community should remain committed to the principles guiding development in fragile States.

Mr. MIRANDA highlighted that in his country, all Government leaders, the legislative Assembly and local authorities had worked to help familiarize the population with the Goals.  A national council had been formulated with a wide range of parties, which would allow for the monitoring of how the Goals were being implemented.  The country’s statistical system would help to determine the starting point for the development Goals, and also gauge how much progress was made.  Marginalized populations had been actively involved and some 4,500 consultations took place with leaders across the public sector.

Mr. VAN DE VREKEN said that ODA, which had a comparative advantage in that it was the only tool specifically focused on ending poverty, must be used efficiently.  The world needed to rethink the use of ODA, in-line with international trends.  Domestic resource mobilization was still insufficient in many developing countries.  Studies indicated that to eradicate extreme poverty, all countries other than least developed countries would need to dedicate 0.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) towards that effort.  It would be important to reach out to those farthest behind through a rights-based approach, he said, adding that peaceful societies were a pre-requisite to development.

Ms. NAYAR said that her organization, Regions Refocused, had been designed to change policies in conjunction with progressive policymakers and regional institutions.  The principle of solidarity must be recovered in the context of development cooperation.  ODA must be used for its original purpose instead of for influencing trade or macroeconomic policies.  Governments must be held accountable to their own citizens.  The Goals would not be realized if policy formulation was not autonomous and if citizen participation lacked integrity.  Development cooperation must support nationally and regionally defined imperatives.

Mr. OSOTIMEHIM emphasized that the Goals were indivisible and had been constructed in a way that made them complementary.  A whole-of-society approach was needed.  Governments must open up to civil society and the private sector must be able to play a role.  The Goals could cost trillions of dollars, which meant that partnerships, particularly with the private sector, would be essential, with the United Nations working to ensure national Governments built such partnerships in the most accountable and transparent way possible.  A country’s most valuable resource was its people.  The challenge was to make people as productive as possible through education and access to skills training.

Mr. RODRÍGUEZ said that ODA could play an important role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, although it was clear that the requirements of the Agenda went well beyond those resources.  There needed to be a shift from ODA to the broader concept of development cooperation.  Also needed were clearer rules for allocating international support.  Development cooperation must be pursued in line with the multidimensional nature of the 2030 Agenda.  The main contribution of development cooperation should not be measured in what it directly financed, but rather the kinds of social and economic changes it inspired.

Ms. PHAM said that as the world focused on the implementation of the Goals, it was important to recall the financing for development promises that had been made in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  The 2030 Agenda was universal, which should create shifts in thinking about development cooperation.  The targets and goals were related to each other, while the climate agenda must also be integrated.  Investment should be focused on basic services, data and statistical architecture, infrastructure, institutions and supporting fragile and conflict-affected States.  Whole-of-Government approaches were also needed, which would require engaging parliaments, subnational and local governments.

The representative of Honduras spoke in the ensuing discussion, noting that accomplishing the objectives outlined in the 2030 Agenda would require not only political will, but also clear strategies based on political intelligence.

The representative of South Africa questioned how countries could commit to curbing illicit financial flows.

A representative of the European Union stressed the important role of development cooperation as a lever for effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda. 

Also speaking were the representatives of Ghana and Haiti.

Panel III

Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary-General of CIVICUS-World Alliance for Citizen Participation, moderated the third panel discussion, on “Aligning development cooperation to contribute to the different aspects of the 2030 Agenda”.  The discussion featured the following panellists:  Palouki Massina, Secretary General, Government of Togo and member, United Nations Committee of Experts on Public Administration; Admasu Nebebe, Director, United Nations Agencies and Regional Economic Cooperation Directorate, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Ethiopia; Riikka Laatu, Deputy Director General for Development Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland; Martin Shearman, Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the United Nations, and former High Commissioner to Uganda; and Adriano Campolina, Chief Executive Officer, Action Aid.

Delivering the keynote address was Choi Jong-moon, Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs, Republic of Korea.

Mr. CHOI noted that the 2030 Agenda was different from, and more ambitious than, the Sustainable Development Goals, saying it included relevant stakeholders in the implementation process and placed a strong emphasis on economy, environment and society.  It was important to promote partnerships, and the private sector, non-governmental organizations and academia had a key role to play in that regard.  It was also necessary to ensure effective mobilization of resources and the creation of relevant policies and programmes.  Due to the diversity of interests, it was challenging to ensure internal coordination and countries must take national ownership, he stressed.

Mr. SRISKANDARAJAH expressed hope that the panellists would talk about their national and international efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. NEBEBE said Ethiopia had adopted a five-year plan that mainstreamed the Goals into the national agenda.  Concerning the environment, the Government had identified climate change adaptation-related indicators and created a number of institutions.  There was a need to adopt a systematic approach to cooperation, he said, adding that international development actors must focus on resource allocation.  To ensure that no one was left behind, it was necessary to ensure long-term support and a programme-based approach, he said.

Mr. MASSINA called attention to Togo’s economic stagnation and debt, saying the amount of ODA it received had decreased.  The Government planned to create a national plan with a view to meeting needs arising from the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, adding that, with the help of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Togo had begun restoring its economy.  He emphasized the need to inspire confidence and ensure economic development.

Ms. LAATU said that Finland’s development policy, directly related to 11 Sustainable Development Goals, had four priorities, including the rights of women and girls, job creation, democratic and well-functioning societies, and food security and the sustainable use of natural resources.  Expressing support for the efforts of civil society organizations, she said they must adopt a human rights approach in order to win the Government’s support.

Mr. SHEARMAN said it was necessary to win public and political support when delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals.  Recalling that the United Kingdom’s Treasury and Department for International Development had announced a new aid strategy outlining a new cross-Government approach in November 2015, he said it sought to address a range of global challenges, including global poverty, threats to peace and security, and climate change.

Mr. CAMPOLINA said the 2030 Agenda had “changed the game”, and Member States must move from rhetoric to action.  If the world wished to address inequality, it would be important to redistribute resources, ensure policy coherence, and provide better quality services.  However, that would require systematic change.  South-South cooperation and stopping tax avoidance were two other effective ways to address inequality.

The representative of Papua New Guinea said his country had created a development cooperation policy that set out national priorities.  He emphasized that development partners must respect national processes.

Also speaking were representatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

Panel IV

Rathin Roy, Director of the National Institute for Public Finance Policy, Ministry of Finance of India, was the keynote speaker in the day’s final panel, titled, “Southern partners advancing mutual learning and envisioning the contribution of South-South cooperation for sustainable development”.  Moderated by María Eugenia Casar, Executive Director of the Agency for International Development Cooperation of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, it featured presentations by:  Abdirahman Yusuf A. Ayante, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of Somalia; Joao Almino, Director of the Brazilian Agency for Cooperation; and Jorge Chediek, Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation.

Mr. ROY said highly unequal access to financing, technology and quality institutions and capacities were three areas that were as restrictive today for countries of the global South as in the past.  South-South cooperation had become relevant in that States were required to work politically to overcome those challenges.  Concessional financing was still important, but the real challenge was in accessing non-concessional financing in areas, such as infrastructure, that were of interest to developing countries.  However, investing in infrastructure required long-term financing, which was often not undertaken due to regulatory risk — or perceptions regarding a country’s political economy.

Discussing renewable energy, for example, he said that when the intellectual property allowing the world to create more efficient solar systems was owned by 5 of the 10 richest countries, and 25 per cent of the revenues reverted to them, Governments were forced to think about such issues as political ones.  That was what South-South cooperation was about.  Another barrier to access was capacity, which for developing countries meant the ability to take charge of their own affairs.  His country had been addressing the issue of capacity by establishing a community within the South to deliver solutions, as seen in the Kofi Annan Centre for Technology.  In sum, South-South cooperation was not a technocratic effort, but a political one, as the institutions that mediated access were governed by a political mandate that was 50 years old.  If taken politically and as an attempt to address access, South-South cooperation could deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. AYANTE discussed important factors for advancing South-South cooperation in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, describing horizontal cooperation among national institutions, civil societies and private sectors, as well as in the commissioning of more robust research and in offering solutions to the challenges identified.  Vertical cooperation among Governments, by creating policy linkages, was also important, as was streamlining policies and actions.  There was a need to reorient objectives within the new Goals in ways that responded to local demands, he said, noting that countries in the global South recognized the importance of localizing the Goals in ways that responded to a unique context.

Mr. ALMINO said developing countries should set an example of assertiveness in respecting each country’s policy space in the formulation of national development policies.  The conceptual framework of South-South cooperation was set up 50 years ago.  Conceptual divisions on what constituted South-South cooperation could prevent countries from understanding its dynamics and vitality.  Developing countries had seen other actors’ attempts to quantify South-South cooperation, based on criteria conceived for other realities.  South-South partnerships included knowledge exchange, technology transfer, resilience-building and the development of human capital.  “Let’s pay attention to quality, structuring elements, sustainability and to outputs and outcomes,” he said.  “This is what matters most.”

Mr. CHEDIEK said the new Agenda revived a comprehensive definition of development.  For years, the focus had been on the consequences of a lack of development:  poverty and exclusion.  The discourse, however, had neglected to address economic growth, a critical element.  South-South cooperation was important because countries of the global South had shown that sustainable development could be achieved.  “We can learn from each other in the South,” he said, noting that stronger regional integration also had allowed countries that had once turned their backs on each other to exchange information, as had been seen in Latin America.  Overcoming the political and institutional challenges to South-South cooperation required generating the proper metrics.  The institutional set-up for South-South cooperation must be reworked, as the international system – embodied in the international financial institutions and the United Nations – had been established in order to channel North-South cooperation.

The representative of Germany spoke in the ensuing discussion noting that South-South cooperation allowed peers to exchange best practices, particularly in overcoming barriers.  He asked what constituted South-South cooperation in the context of the new Goals, whether criteria would be established, and which countries constituted the global South.

The representative of Colombia called South-South cooperation a powerful development instrument, noting that his agency was charged with measuring its qualitative and quantitative terms.  The qualitative dimensions included the know-how being shared, the visibility being generated and the quantity of networks that aligned with the new Goals.

The representative Venezuela said the Petro-Caribe agreement facilitated energy resources on an equitable basis, expressing hope that the United Nations Office for South-South cooperation be strengthened.  He asked how to reduce costs of financial transactions among countries.

The representative of Thailand, noting that South-South cooperation could be a development multiplier, advocated greater use of research and development centres.  Cohesion between New York and the regions should be improved in order to foster better policy planning, with regional commissions disseminating best practices.

The representative of the European Union said his delegation was committed to dedicating 0.7 per cent of gross national income for ODA within the 2030 Agenda time frame.  He was intrigued by Mr. Roy’s comments about political responses that were necessary for political problems.  He asked what political response could be offered to such problems.

Mr. ROY, responding to those questions and comments, said the distinction was not about levels of per capita income, but rather, access.  South-South cooperation was one of myriad attempts to respond to the political challenge of asymmetric access.  The political challenges the South faced were immense.  If reform of the multilateral institutions could not be achieved, then a country was politically stuck, which in turn, bred the rise of alternative financial institutions.

The representative of Algeria, sharing his country’s experience in South-South cooperation, described new partnerships to promote commercial and economic interactions.  He asked about the best way to learn lessons from others.

Also speaking were representatives of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and International Trade Union Confederation, as well as a non-governmental organization.

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Biographical notes

Donald Bobiash (BA [Political Science], University of Saskatchewan, 1980; Laval University, 1982; certificate, Ecole Nationale d’Administration et de Magistrature, Senegal, 1983; MA [Industrial Relations and Personnel Management], London School of Economics, 1984; DPhil [International Relations], Oxford University, 1989). Mr. Bobiash is a Rhodes Scholar and has received the Commonwealth and Rotary International graduate scholarships. He worked for Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Finance from 1980 to 1981 and as a part-time consultant to Oxford Analytica Daily Brief and the International Development Research Centre from 1986 to 1988. He joined the Department of External Affairs in 1989. His first overseas assignment was as second secretary in the Canadian high commission to Pakistan, where he served from 1990 to 1992. From 1996 to 2000, he served as counsellor and consul in the embassy to Japan. He was appointed high commissioner to Ghana and ambassador to Togo in 2004. From 2006 to 2009, he was deputy head of mission in Tokyo and from 2013 to 2016, ambassador to Indonesia, Timor-Leste and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. At Headquarters, his first assignment was with the Francophone Affairs Division in 1989; he transferred to the South America Relations Division in 1990. From 1992 to 1994, he served in the Economic Relations with Developing Countries Division. He served as deputy director of the South Asia Division in 2000 and as deputy director of the Policy Planning Division in 2001. From 2002 to 2004, he was director of the Southeast Asia Division. In 2009, he was named director general for Africa. He is married to Teresa Rozkiewicz, and they have two children, Ariane and Catherine.

Ian Burney (BA Hons [Political Science], McGill University, 1985; MA [International Relations], University of Toronto, 1986) joined the Department of External Affairs in 1987. Abroad, Mr. Burney served as third and second secretary at the embassy in Bangkok from 1989 to 1991 and as consul and senior trade commissioner at the consulate general in Ho Chi Minh City from 1995 to 1997. In Ottawa, he was seconded as a policy analyst to the Foreign and Defence Policy Secretariat in the Privy Council Office from 1993 to 1995. At Headquarters, he has occupied a number of positions in the United States, Asia Pacific and trade policy branches. He served as the director of the Trade Controls Policy Division from 1999 to 2002, director of the Trade Remedies Division from 2002 to 2004, director general of the Bilateral and Regional Trade Policy Bureau from 2004 to 2006 and as chief trade negotiator (bilateral and regional) in the Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch from 2006 to 2009. From 2009 to 2011, Mr. Burney served as assistant deputy minister of the International Business Development, Investment and Innovation Branch and from 2011 to 2015, as assistant deputy minister, trade agreements and negotiations. Mr. Burney received the 2014 Outstanding Achievement Award of the Public Service of Canada. In July 2015, he was appointed assistant secretary to the cabinet for economic and regional development policy, in the Privy Council Office. Mr. Burney is married and has four children.

Perry Calderwood (BA Hons [Soviet and East European Studies], Carleton University, 1983; MA [International Affairs], Carleton University, 1986) joined the Department of External Affairs in 1986. During his time at Headquarters, he was the director for Eastern and Southern Africa and deputy to the personal representative of the prime minister for Africa (2004 to 2007), deputy director of the United Nations and Commonwealth Affairs Division (1998 to 2000), and also served in the Arms Control and Disarmament Division (1989 to 1992). He served overseas at missions including New York City, Bogotá, Moscow, Buenos Aires and Pretoria. He was ambassador to Venezuela (2007 to 2010) and to Senegal (2010 to 2013) and high commissioner to Nigeria (2013 to 2016).

Heather Cameron (BA Hons [Political Science], Carleton University, 1987; MA [Public Policy], King’s College London, 2009) joined External Affairs and International Trade Canada in 1990 and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in 1992. During her career, she has had a number of assignments in the Africa and Middle East Bureau, including as director of the pan-African and Francophonie programs. She has also served as director of strategic initiatives (2009 to 2012) and director of the Human Development and Gender Equality Division (2012 to 2013). Since 2013, she has been the senior director of the Haiti and Dominican Republic Division. Overseas assignments include the high commission in Harare, Zimbabwe (1992 to 1996), where she was responsible for regional humanitarian affairs, and the high commission in Maputo, Mozambique (2004 to 2007), where she served as counsellor and director (development).

Janice Charette (BA [Commerce], Carleton University, 1984) served as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet from October 2014 to January 2016. She was appointed Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council and Associate Secretary to the Cabinet in January 2013 and deputy minister of intergovernmental affairs and Associate Secretary to the Cabinet in November 2010. Her previous positions in the public service include senior assistant deputy minister for policy at the Department of Justice Canada (1999 to 2001); assistant secretary to Cabinet for priorities and planning (2001 to 2002), and deputy secretary to the Cabinet for planning and consultations (2002 to 2003), both in the Privy Council Office; associate deputy minister at Health Canada (2003 to 2004); deputy minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (2004 to 2006); and deputy minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada as well as chairperson of the Canada Employment Insurance Commission (2006 to 2010). Ms. Charette was director of the transition team for the newly formed Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in 1998 and principal at Ernst & Young LLP from 1995 to 1997. She is married to Reg Charette, and they have two adult children, Jed and Cassie.

Antoine Chevrier (BA [Economics], Laval University, 1993; MA [International Relations], Laval University, 1996) started working with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in 1997. At Headquarters, he was director of the Haiti Bilateral Development Program, as well as director of the transition team in charge of amalgamating CIDA with Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada in 2013. In 2014, he was appointed director general of the Geographic Coordination and Mission Support Bureau. He has served abroad in positions including, from 2009 to 2013, director of the development program at the Canadian embassy to Peru and Bolivia. From 2002 to 2006 he assumed various functions, including chief of staff in the Executive Secretariat for Integral Development at the Organization of American States, in Washington, D.C. Mr. Chevrier is married to Catherine Vézina; they have a daughter, Philomène.

Chris Cooter (BA Hons [Political Science], University of Toronto, 1981; MA [Political Science], Columbia University, 1982; BCL, LLB [Common/Civil Law], McGill University, 1986) was an associate at Campney & Murphy, a Vancouver law firm (1987 to 1989), then acting manager of lands for the British Columbia region of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs (1989 to 1990). He joined External Affairs and International Trade Canada in 1990. He served abroad as deputy permanent representative to the Joint Delegation of Canada to NATO, as political officer in the Canadian high commissions to India and Kenya and as high commissioner to Nigeria. At Headquarters, he served as director of the Policy Planning division and of the Southeast Europe division. He served as director general responsible for the amalgamation of the Canadian International Development Agency and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. Most recently, he was director general of the Executive Management and Assignments Division. He has two children, Zoe and Anais.

Jennifer Daubeny (BA [International Relations], University of British Columbia, 1984; MPA, University of Victoria, 1990) joined the Department of External Affairs in 1988. She was posted as a trade commissioner to the Canadian embassy in Prague (1990 to 1993), and in 1995 she opened and headed Canada’s first consulate in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she served for three years. She served as senior trade commissioner at Canada’s high commission in London (2009 to 2013). At Headquarters she has held positions in the International Financial and Investment Affairs, Agricultural Trade Policy, Caribbean and Central America Relations, Technical Barriers and Regulations, and U.S. Transboundary divisions. She also served as director of the Middle East and Africa Commercial Relations Division (2007 to 2009) and  Investor Services Division, responsible for attracting foreign direct investment to Canada (2013 to 2014). Her most recent position was director of the Science, Technology and Innovation Division. She and her partner David Springgay have two sons, Alex and Eric.

Lise Filiatrault (BSc [Biology], Université du Québec à Montréal, 1983; Graduate Studies Diploma in International Development and Cooperation, University of Ottawa, 1989) joined External Affairs and International Trade Canada in 1990 as a foreign service officer. Previously, she served in Cameroon with Centre d’études et de coopération internationale and worked with Crossroads International in Montréal. Ms. Filiatrault served in Georgetown, Guyana (1992 to 1994); in Santiago, Chile (1996 to 2000); and in Havana, Cuba (2002 to 2005). Ms. Filiatrault also held various positions at the Canadian International Development Agency, such as director of the Middle East Program (2005 to 2008), regional director general of the Europe, Middle East and Maghreb Directorate (2009 to 2010) and regional director general of the Americas Directorate (2010 to 2013). At Headquarters, she was assistant deputy minister for the Sub-Saharan Africa Branch (2013 to 2016). Ms. Filiatrault and her spouse Richard Boisvert have two daughters, Frédérique and Gabrielle.

Emi Furuya (BA Hons [Political Science specialization, French Literature major], University of Toronto, 1996; MA [Political Science], University of Toronto, 1997) worked as a consultant for the Canadian International Development Agency, specializing in democratization and good governance before joining the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in 1999. Ms. Furuya has served abroad as political counsellor at the embassy in Paris (2006 to 2010), as second secretary (political) at the embassy in Tokyo (2000 to 2003) and as junior adviser at the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations in New York City (1999). In Ottawa, she has worked on Commonwealth affairs; managed peace support operations, including security sector policy and deployments; and served as deputy director for the department’s international assistance envelope and international financial institutions division. She has also served as deputy director for the G7 and G20 summits, as director of the Office of the Senior Associate Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and, most recently, as executive director of the Office of the Deputy Minister of International Development. Ms. Furuya and her spouse have two sons.

Carla Hogan Rufelds (BSc [Forestry], University of New Brunswick, 1983) joined the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in January 1995. During her time at Headquarters, Ms. Hogan Rufelds was a senior program officer and forestry adviser for the Asia Branch (1995 to 1999) and the manager for policy and strategic planning in the Canadian Partnership Branch (2003 to 2008). She served as director for sustainable economic growth, food security and environment in the Strategic Policy and Performance Branch and the Global Issues and Development Branch (2008 to 2014). More recently, Ms. Hogan Rufelds was the director of strategic planning and operations for the Latin America and Caribbean region (2014 to 2016). She served abroad in Kathmandu at the Office of the Canadian Embassy and at CIDA’s Canadian Cooperation Office as the Canadian representative (1999 to 2003). She also worked abroad in Rome as a forestry officer in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (1990 to 1993). Ms. Hogan Rufelds is married to Dan Hogan and has two children, Liam and Sylva.

Masud Husain (BA, Laval University, 1988; LLB, McGill University, 1991) joined External Affairs and International Trade Canada in 1991. He was desk officer in the Legal Advisory Division (1995 to 1997). He was deputy director of the Oceans and Environmental Law Division (1999 to 2002) and of the Criminal, Security and Treaty Law Division (2003 to 2006). He was later executive director of the Criminal, Security and Diplomatic Law Division (2013 to 2016). In his overseas positions, he was posted to Amman as the political officer responsible for Iraq (1992 to 1995). He served in Damascus as head of the Political Section (1997 to 1999). In The Hague, he served as counsellor in the Political Section (2005 to 2009). He served as minister-counsellor and political coordinator in the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations in New York (2009 to 2013). Most recently, he was director general of the Middle East and Maghreb Bureau. He is married to Laila El Fenne, and they have two children, Omar and Lalla Miriem.

Ping Kitnikone (BA [Pacific Studies and Economics], University of Victoria, 1991; MPA, University of Victoria, 1994) joined External Affairs and International Trade Canada in 1994. During her time at Headquarters, Ms. Kitnikone has worked in the International Financial Institutions Division, the Policy Development and Integration Division,  the North Asia Commercial Relations Division and, most recently, at the Centre of Learning for International Affairs and Management (2014 to 2016). Postings overseas have included Beijing, Taipei and Bangkok (with concurrent accreditation to Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar). In 2004, she was appointed consul general in Mumbai. Ms. Kitnikone and her spouse, Jean-Stéphane Couture, have two children.

Marie Legault (BA [Political Science], University of Geneva, 1988; MA [International Relations], Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Switzerland, 1991) joined the Canadian International Development Agency in 1996. At Headquarters, she served as director, Central America Division (2006 to 2008) and director of programming, Haiti Division (2014 to 2016). Ms. Legault also served in the Privy Council Office in the Foreign and Defence Policy Secretariat (2002 to 2005). Abroad, she was posted to the High Commission of Canada to Jamaica, serving as head of the Cooperation Program (2010 to 2014). Ms. Legault is widowed and has one child, a daughter, Alexa.

Matthew Levin (BA, University of Manitoba, 1975; MA [International Economics], Monterey Institute of International Studies, California, 1984) was most recently director general of Global Affairs Canada’s Europe-Eurasia Bureau. He was previously director of operations at the Foreign and Defence Policy Secretariat of the Privy Council Office, and served as ambassador to Colombia, from 2005 to 2008, and to Cuba, from 2010 to 2013. After joining the Department of External Affairs in 1986, Mr. Levin served abroad in Washington as economic counsellor and in Moscow as deputy head of mission. At Headquarters, Mr. Levin’s assignments also include two years as chief of staff to two deputy ministers. Prior to joining the department, Mr. Levin taught English literature at the University of Milan and worked for Amnesty International in Canada. He is married to Rosalba Imbrogno Levin. They have three adult children.

Deborah Lyons (BSc Hons [Biology], University of New Brunswick; certificate, National Defence College) was a successful small business owner for seven years prior to joining the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources in 1983. In 1986, Ms. Lyons joined the Privy Council Office as a senior policy analyst. From 1987 to 1999, Ms. Lyons worked with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), first as director for business networks, then as director of policy and planning and later as director of trade and technology. During her time with ACOA, she briefly left, joining the Department of National Defence to attend National Defence College. In 1999, Ms. Lyons joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and was assigned to Tokyo as a counsellor for high-tech industries. She returned to Ottawa in 2004 to become director for international finance and then director general of the North America Commercial Bureau. In 2009, she was promoted to assistant deputy minister for policy and planning and filled the new position of chief strategy officer. She was deputy head of mission at the embassy in Washington, D.C., from 2010 to 2013. In 2013, she was appointed ambassador to Afghanistan.

Peter MacDougall (BA [Political Science], University of British Columbia, 1988; BSW, University of Victoria, 1992; MSW, McGill University, 1998; MA [International Relations], Université Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne, 2014; Diploma, École nationale d’administration, Strasbourg, 2014) worked in the non-profit sector prior to joining Health Canada in 2000. Following senior analyst and manager positions at Health Canada, Canadian Heritage, and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), Mr. MacDougall became director of HRSDC’s Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Initiative in 2004. In 2006, he became director of Intergovernmental and Stakeholder Relations at Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). He subsequently was director general, Admissibility Policy, and director general, Refugee Affairs, at CIC before joining the Foreign and Defence Policy Secretariat at the Privy Council Office in 2011 as director of operations. Since January 2015, Mr. MacDougall has been the assistant secretary to the Cabinet for Foreign and Defence Policy. He is married to Rachel Aslan and they have four children.

Ian Myles (BSc [International Development], University of Toronto, 1991; MSc [Natural Resource and Environmental Economics], University of Guelph, 2000) joined the Canadian International Development Agency in 2000 after seven years working with various non-governmental organizations in Canada and Latin America. During his time at Headquarters, he has worked as an environment specialist in Africa Branch (2000 to 2008), director of strategic analysis and operations for Southern and Eastern Africa (2011 to 2014) and senior director for the Panafrica and Regional Program (2014 to 2015). His overseas positions include deputy director of the development program (2008 to 2010) and then senior director and head of cooperation (2010 to 2011) at Canada’s high commission to Ghana. Since August 2015, Mr. Myles has been senior director and head of cooperation at the high commission to Tanzania. He is married and has two sons.

Jeff Nankivell (BA Hons [International Relations], University of Toronto, 1986; MSc with distinction [Political Sociology], London School of Economics and Political Science, 1988) joined the foreign service in 1988. Mr. Nankivell served in various capacities with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA): at Headquarters, he worked as a development officer with the China Division (1988 to 1989)a country analyst with the Russia Division (1995 to 1998), as a senior program manager for the World Bank Group in the International Financial Institutions Division (1998 to 2000), as director of the Strategic Policy Division in the Policy Branch (2004 to 2006) and as director of the China and Northeast Asia Division (2006 to 2008). Mr. Nankivell was also posted to the embassy in Beijing on several occasions, serving as first secretary (1991 to 1995), counsellor (2000 to 2002), as head of the Development Section (2000 to 2004) and as minister and deputy head of mission (2008 to 2011). In August 2011, Mr. Nankivell returned to CIDA Headquarters to serve as director general of the Asia Bureau. In 2013, he became director general of development programming for the Asia Pacific Branch at DFATD. Mr. Nankivell is married to Alison Nankivell. They have two sons, Sam and Alex.

Olivier Nicoloff (BA [Political Science], McGill University, 1978; MA [International Relations], Laval University, 1982) joined the Department of External Affairs in 1987. At Headquarters, he worked in the Human Resources Directorate (1991 to 1993) and held the position of coordinator of the Anti-personnel Mine Action Team (1999 to 2002). Overseas, he served in Abidjan (1988 to 1989), Dakar (1989 to 1991), Tunis (1993 to 1996), Moscow (1996 to 1999) and Prague (2002 to 2006). Upon his return to Ottawa, he served as director of the Intergovernmental Relations Division (2006 to 2009), of the Democracy, Commonwealth and La Francophonie Division (2009 to 2012) and of the European Union and Europe Bilateral and Institutional Relations Division (2012 to 2016). Mr. Nicoloff is married to Isabelle Guévin, and they have two adult children, Raphaël and Catherine.

Patrick Parisot (CGE [Business Management], HEC Montréal, 1976; BSp Rel Hum [Psychology of Communications], University of Quebec at Montréal, 1979; BA [Political Science], University of Quebec at Montréal, 1984; CIJ [Information and Journalism], University of Montréal, 1987) has been an independent public relations and communications professional since 2011. He was principal secretary to the leader of the Official Opposition (2010 to 2011) and served as press secretary and special policy adviser in the Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition and the Office of the Prime Minister (1993 to 2001). He has served as ambassador to Algeria (2007 to 2010), Portugal (2003 to 2007) and Chile (2001 to 2003). He and his spouse, Carmen Altamirano, have three sons.

Donica Pottie (BA [Asian Studies], St. Mary’s University, 1985) joined External Affairs and International Trade Canada in 1991. She was third and second secretary at the embassy in China (1993 to 1996), served in assignments at the embassy in Jordan as head of the political section (1999 to 2002) and was ambassador to Cambodia (2004 to 2007). She was the director of several divisions: Democracy and Governance Policy (2007 to 2010), Development Policy and Institutions (2012 to 2013) and Peace Operations and Fragile States Policy (2013 to 2015). In 2015, she became director general of consular operations. She is married to Scot Slessor, and they have a daughter, Sophie.

Isabelle Poupart (LLB, University of Montréal, 1992; LLM [International Law], University of Montréal, 1994) joined the Quebec Bar in 1993 and worked as a lawyer prior to joining the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in 1995. At Headquarters, she worked in the Legal Bureau and in the International Economic Relations and Summits and the Defence and Security Relations divisions. Her first assignment abroad was at the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations in New York. She also worked for the Conflict Prevention Centre of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna. She served twice at the Joint Delegation of Canada to NATO in Brussels—the second time as head of the Political Section. Upon her return to Ottawa, she worked as senior adviser to the assistant deputy minister for Global Issues, Strategic Policy and Europe. Most recently, she was ambassador and permanent representative of Canada to the OSCE. She is married to Reinhard Bettzuege, and they have a daughter.

Barbara Richardson (BA, University of Alberta, 1972) began her career at the University of Calgary in 1974 and entered the public service in 1984, working with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in Alberta and the Northwest Territories and with Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s International Region. She joined External Affairs and International Trade Canada in 1989. She has had assignments in the Philippines, as well as in Kenya, where she served as political counsellor and deputy head of mission (with accreditation to Burundi, Eritrea, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda) and as deputy permanent representative to the United Nations Environment Programme and to the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements. In 2005, she was appointed high commissioner to Bangladesh and, in 2008, ambassador to Zimbabwe and Angola and high commissioner to Botswana. Since her return to Canada in 2011, she has worked as director general for consular operations, director general for mission operations and client relations and, most recently, as the department’s inspector general. She has one adult son.

Ulric Shannon (BA Hons [History and Political Science], McGill University, 1997; MA [International Relations], Graduate Diploma in Security Studies, York University, 1998) joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in 1999. In Ottawa, he has served as director of the Media Relations Office. He also served as the executive assistant to the assistant deputy minister for global and security policy and as a desk officer in both the Regional Security and Peacekeeping Division and the Eastern and Southern Africa Division. Abroad, Mr. Shannon has served as a political and public affairs officer in Cairo, senior political officer in Ramallah and first secretary in Islamabad. He was awarded the department’s foreign-language fellowship to pursue advanced studies in Arabic from 2012 to 2013, and during that time he also served as Canada’s first representative to the Syrian opposition. Most recently, Mr. Shannon was based in Istanbul as country director for ARK, a stabilization consultancy. He is married to Robin Wettlaufer.

Phyllis Yaffe (BA, University of Manitoba, 1969; BLS, University of Alberta, 1972; MSc [Library Science], University of Toronto, 1976) has had a distinguished career in both the private and not-for-profit sectors. Ms. Yaffe has served as chair of the board of Cineplex Entertainment, lead director of Torstar Corporation and as a member of the boards of Lionsgate Entertainment and Blue Ant Media. A former board member of Astral Media, for many years she served as a senior officer, and ultimately as chief executive officer, of Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. At Alliance Atlantis, Ms. Yaffe oversaw worldwide operations, including Canadian specialty-television channels, international television distribution business and the popular CSI television franchise. Ms. Yaffe has also served as chair of the board of governors of Ryerson University, of the Ontario Science Centre board and of Women Against Multiple Sclerosis. She also served on the World Wildlife Fund board and was executive director of the Association of Canadian Publishers. Ms. Yaffe has earned a long list of awards, including an induction into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Broadcast Hall of Fame in 2007.

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Speeches: OIC Conference of Health Ministers

His Excellency Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Iyad Madani, Esteemed Ministers of Health, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure and an honor for me to participate in the 5th Islamic Conference of Health Ministers on behalf of the United States government. As the Acting U.S. Special Envoy to the OIC, I work to deepen and expand US cooperation with the OIC on a wide range of shared challenges. Health issues are one of the most important and productive areas of our cooperation, an area in which we hope to expand our collaborative work.

This meeting comes at an important time, just on the heels of the world’s adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The OIC has an important role to play in coordinating OIC member state efforts to improve health outcomes in OIC member states, and the United States stands ready to continue to work with the OIC and its member states as we work to achieve the global goals, including Goal 3 on health.


One of the long-standing areas of US-OIC health cooperation is in the area of polio eradication. I thank Dr. Yagob Yousef AL-Mazrou, Chair of the Islamic Advisory Group on Eradication of Polio, for his update on the status of polio eradication efforts.

Indeed, from 2014- 2015, significant progress has been made in the global effort to eradicate polio. Global cases have declined by 99% since 1988 and over 2.5 billion children have been vaccinated against the disease. 13 million cases of paralysis have been averted.

In July 2015, Nigeria celebrated one year without a case of wild poliovirus and in September it was removed from the list of countries that have never stopped polio virus transmission. In August 2015, the African continent marked one year since its last wild polio virus case, and it is working towards being declared polio-free by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Thanks to widespread vaccination campaigns in hundreds of countries, a disease that once paralyzed 1,000 children daily is almost history. Almost.

Today, only two countries – Afghanistan and Pakistan – have never stopped transmission of wild poliovirus. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative estimates that if progress continues, polio can be eliminated by the end of 2016 and potentially eradicated by the end of 2019.

This is an attainable goal, one that we must all work to achieve. Despite the progress, local leaders and governments cannot become complacent. Polio vaccination and surveillance must continue throughout the world in order to sustain population immunity and find any remain pockets of virus circulation.

Until polio is wiped out everywhere, children remain at risk.

The OIC has played an important role in polio eradication, by providing accurate information about the vaccine, organizing religious leaders in support of immunization, and encouraging countries and the Islamic Development Bank to provide financial support to priority countries.

This level of international cooperation is unprecedented and is achieving measurable results for the poorest, hardest to reach, children in the world.


Another important area of US-OIC cooperation is in the area of maternal and child health. The OIC and the United States recognize the critical importance of improving the health of mothers, newborns and children and reducing the number of preventable deaths. We have made this a top priority for collective action. This is especially critical as we face the challenge presented by the global goals, particularly goal 3 andits target to end preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths globally.

In 2014, the partnership of the OIC-Secretariat, the United States, the WHO and United Nations Population Fund launched the maternal and newborn health collaboration with seven OIC member states to improve the care of mothers and newborns.

During this technical consultation, all seven countries — Afghanistan, Chad, Cameroon, Guinea, Mauritania, Nigeria, and Somalia — were given tools to perform a self-assessment and prioritization exercise of key barriers that are preventing the delivery of high quality maternal and newborn care.

To date, four countries have completed their analyses, and the remaining three countries will complete their assessments in the coming months. Following the completion of the country assessment, the partners will reconvene country delegations to discuss common challenges and innovative financing options to fill resource gaps.

The United States is grateful to the OIC-Secretariat, OIC member states, and other partners for their enthusiasm and collaborative spirit on this work to save the lives of women and children in OIC member states.


This conference’s panel discussion on preparedness and response in health emergencies is an especially timely contribution. The past year has seen benchmarks that underscore both opportunities and challenges to enabling healthy lives and promoting well-being for all.

Successes include bringing the Ebola epidemic close to its end and moving toward recovery. The last known case – a 19-day-old baby – was released from a hospital in Guinea on Monday after testing negative for the disease. The OIC program to help Guinea and Sierra Leone respond to Ebola has been a core component of this success. Assistance from the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency has been an integral part of the OIC response.

Aside from responding quickly to health emergencies, the OIC’s ongoing efforts to strengthen the health systems in member states are vitally needed and already having a positive impact. The OIC Strategic Health Program of Action recognizes the central role health care plays in human development and seeks to ensure the best possible health care for people in OIC member states.

The OIC General Secretariat’s commitment to eradicating polio and OIC support for the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria are examples of how the Strategic Health Program improves human health and of the vital role your organization plays in advancing global health security.

Yet even more action is needed. Health threats continue to undermine the economic potential of nations and contribute to social and economic inequality. The recent Ebola outbreak was a stark reminder of the devastating impact health emergencies can have on communities, on the work force, on commerce, and on economic growth. Like Ebola, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus reminds us of the role of animals and ecosystems in the spread of novel infections. Both of these outbreaks highlight the importance of maintaining continuity of care as people move between communities and health service systems.

Even our tools to fight infection are weakening. Increasing resistance to antibiotics and other medicines by disease organisms costs countless lives, with corresponding costs to health care systems as well as the human cost. Resistant diseases have the potential to undo the progress on HIV, TB and Malaria, and to put at risk modern medical advances such as surgery, transplants, and chemotherapy.

Additionally, inability to treat health threats to livestock and agriculture threatens future food security. In 2012, the OIC called on its Member States and the international community at large to “accord due attention to the existing and emerging health issues such as development of antimicrobial resistance.”

In 2014, together with partners from around the world, the United States launched the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), a multilateral and multi-sectoral initiative that now includes nearly 50 countries. Many of these countries are OIC members, including Indonesia, the incoming GHSA Steering Group Chair.

The GHSA is a whole-of-government, whole-of society partnership aimed at achieving a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats. More specifically, the goal of the GHSA is to strengthen global capabilities to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to infectious disease outbreaks before they become epidemics.

When the GHSA was launched, the United States made a commitment to partner with least 30 countries over five years to achieve the GHSA targets. Earlier this year, the U.S. entered into partnerships with 17 countries – 11 of them OIC members – in the first phase of its commitment.

On Monday, at the G-20 Summit in Antalya, President Obama announced partnerships with 13 additional countries and the Caribbean Community to fulfill our 30-country commitment. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Jordan, Kazakhstan, Mozambique, and Caribbean Community Members such as Guyana as our newest partners. We look forward to working with you.

Implementation of the GHSA is based on 11 lines of effort called Action Packages, which relate to the core elements of prevention, detection and response. Each of the GHSA country partners has made a commitment to one or more of the Action Packages, as either a leader or as a contributor.

The purpose of the Action Packages is to focus international discussion toward specific, coordinated actions in support of improving global health security. These packages highlight measurable approaches countries can adopt to accelerate, monitor and report GHSA progress; and provide a mechanism by which countries can make specific commitments and take leadership roles in the GHSA.

Widespread participation by the OIC and its members in the GHSA will further the objectives of the OIC Strategic Health Program of Action and will help OIC member states comply with the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations. To achieve these goals, it would be helpful for the OIC as an organization to establish a productive relationship with the GHSA.

I would like to take this opportunity to formally encourage and invite the OIC to actively participate in the GHSA by serving as a permanent advisor to the GHSA Steering Group and by taking a leadership role in one or more of the 11 Action Packages.

We commend Indonesia, Turkey, and Malaysia for their leadership on Action Packages related to zoonotic diseases – those that can be passed between animals and humans — and emergency operation centers. And we invite the OIC and other OIC members to consider leading or participating in other GHSA action packages. One of these is immunizations, which the OIC has worked tirelessly to promote in member states, and the single most cost-effective public health measure ever devised. Another is antimicrobial resistance, an area in which the OIC has also exercised leadership. There are many other opportunities for OIC leadership in other GHSA action packages as well, such as the Reporting Action Package. The timely reporting of infectious disease outbreaks will lead to a faster and more effective response.

The OIC may also wish to consider assisting OIC member states in training their health care labor force or increasing vaccine development capacity in collaboration with the GHSA.

This Islamic Conference of Health Ministers provides the perfect opportunity to confirm and announce the OIC’s participation in the GHSA, and I hope that this esteemed body will make such a decision.

The GHSA, the WHO’s International Health Regulations, and other multilateral health-related initiatives are worthy investments for the OIC Strategic Health Program. The United States Government looks forward to working with the OIC and member states to improve worldwide health security.

And we look forward to continuing to expand and improve our broader cooperation with the OIC in the health field.

Thank you.

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FACT SHEET: The U.S. Commitment to the Global Health Security Agenda

Today during the G-20 Leaders’ Summit in Antalya, Turkey, President Obama announced that the United States and 30 countries, listed below, have made a commitment to work together to achieve the targets of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA).  Working closely with these partners and countries around the world, we will strive to achieve a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats by building measurable, sustainable capacity to prevent, detect and rapidly respond to infectious disease threats, whether naturally occurring, accidental or deliberately spread.  We call on all countries to make additional commitments to save lives by preventing future outbreaks from becoming epidemics.

Beginning with the release of the National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats in 2009, and outlined in his 2011 speech at the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama has called upon all countries to come together to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats.  On February 13, 2014, together with partners from around the world, we launched the GHSA with the vision of achieving a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats through building our collective capacity to prevent and control outbreaks whenever and wherever they occur.

GHSA accelerates action and spurs progress toward implementation of the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations and other global health security frameworks, such as the World Organization for Animal Health’s Performance of Veterinary Services Pathway.  The non-governmental sector also has an important role to play in the implementation of GHSA, including academic and research institutes, think tanks, industry, philanthropy and the private sector.

U.S. Commitment

When the GHSA was launched, the United States made a commitment to partner with least 30 countries over five years to achieve the GHSA targets.  In July 2015, the U.S. Government announced its intent to invest more than $1 billion in resources to expand the GHSA to prevent, detect, and respond to future infectious disease outbreaks in 17 countries.  Today, we are announcing an additional 13 countries, with which the United States will partner to achieve the targets of the GHSA.  These common, measurable targets have now been recognized by over 40 countries and achievement of these targets will expand our ability to:

  • Prevent or mitigate the impact of naturally-occurring outbreaks and intentional or accidental releases of dangerous pathogens;
  • Rapidly detect and transparently report outbreaks when they occur; and
  • Rapidly respond and control outbreaks before they become epidemics.

The 30 partner countries of the United States are: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Laos, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Pakistan, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, and Vietnam.  In addition, we plan to partner with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to strengthen regional capacity.

In each of these countries, the United States is working with host governments and other partners to establish a five-year country roadmap to achieve and sustain each of the targets of the GHSA.  These roadmaps are intended to enable a better understanding across sectors and assistance providers of the specific milestones, next steps, and gaps toward achieving capacity needed to prevent, detect, and respond to biological threats.

During the 2015 G-7 Summit in Germany, G-7 leaders matched this approach with an historic commitment to collectively assist at least 60 countries, including the countries of West Africa, over the next five years.  In October, 2015, the G-7 Health Ministers agreed to announce these countries by the end of 2015. 

The 29 member G7 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction also contributes to achieving the GHSA targets by bringing together the health and security sectors to establish global capacity, particularly in the areas of biosecurity, biosafety, biosurveillance, laboratory strengthening, and emergency response.

Preventing Future Outbreaks from Becoming Epidemics:  Since its launch in 2014, the GHSA has brought together partners and sectors from over 40 countries and 9 international organizations around the world to enhance global capacities to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to infectious disease threats through achieving measurable targets.  The GHSA Steering Group includes 10 countries, chaired in 2015 by Finland, in 2016 by Indonesia, and in 2017 by the Republic of Korea.  The GHSA Steering Group currently includes: Canada, Chile, Finland, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Korea, and the United States. 

The GHSA invests in needed capacity – infrastructure, equipment, and skilled personnel across sectors – and enhances coordination and commitment for  countries, international organizations and civil society to work together to achieve the following specific targets: Countering antimicrobial resistance; preventing the emergence and spread of zoonotic disease; advancing a whole-of-government national biosafety and biosecurity system in every country; improving immunization; establishing a national laboratory system; strengthening real-time biosurveillance; advancing timely and accurate disease reporting; establishing a trained global health security workforce; establishing emergency operations centers; linking public health, law and multi-sectoral rapid response; and enhancing medical countermeasures and personnel deployment.

As the Ebola outbreak in West Africa reached epidemic levels in September 2014, the White House hosted a high level meeting with 44 countries to announce over 100 commitments to strengthen capabilities under the GHSA.  In 2015, the Republic of Korea hosted the second high level event to bring together GHSA participating countries and organizations to highlight new commitments and progress. In 2016, the Netherlands will host the third GHSA high level event to highlight progress and continue to build momentum.

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